What makes a beach rank among the best? Instagram-worthy beauty, for sure, but also – depending on your mindset – accessibility, privacy, shade, seclusion, swimmable water, the quality of the sand and the potential for fun.

Like the incurable beachcombers that we are, the Islands staff took all these factors into consideration while revisiting our most memorable Caribbean sun-and-sand experiences. The result is our list of the 25 best beaches in the Caribbean, complete with scores (10 being the best) for the factors we think matter most.

25. Maho Beach, St. Maarten

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Maho Beach, St. Maarten
Maho Beach, St. MaartenShutterstock

Some beaches are made for Instagram, and this one on Dutch St. Maarten is one of them. Chances are that you’ve seen the selfies and videos of people with jumbo jets just feet above their heads. That’s because popular Maho Beach is located next to the runway at St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport).

This dual-nation island is primarily owned by French St. Martin, so there are two cultures influencing the island. The Sunset Beach Bar has reopened after devastating damage by hurricanes in 2017, and jet-spotting patrons have been cleared for landing.

Access: 10
Beauty: 5
Privacy: 4
Sand 8
Shade 3
Swim Ease: 8
Castaway Feel: 5
Fun Factor: 10
Total Score: 53

24. Grand Anse Beach, Grenada

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Grand Anse Beach, Grenada
Grand Anse Beach, GrenadaShutterstock

Offering two-and-a-half miles of soft white sand, pretty aqua-hued water and plenty of sea grape trees for shade, Grenada’s most popular beach is worth a visit, especially if you love to stroll just after sunrise or just before sunset. Yes, it can be crowded at times, but you can always ditch the sand for a refreshing swim or an adrenaline rush, as you try fly-boarding.

Access: 9
Beauty: 7
Privacy: 6
Sand: 7
Shade: 8
Swim Ease: 7
Castaway Feel: 4
Fun Factor: 7
Total Score: 55

23. Jalousie Beach, St. Lucia

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Jalousie Beach, St. Lucia
Jalousie Beach, St. LuciaShutterstock

Some beaches are unique, and Jalousie Beach on St. Lucia certainly fits that bill – in a few different ways.

First, it’s located between Gros Piton and Petit Piton (the dramatic green peaks that are one of St. Lucia’s main calling cards); second, it’s a public beach by law but also part of the Viceroy Sugar Beach Resort, so the easiest access is via a water taxi to Jalousie Bay (it’s a scenic ride, too). Stick to the public area, and you can swim and snorkel at will.

Access: 5
Beauty: 9
Privacy: 7
Sand: 6
Shade: 6
Swim Ease: 10
Castaway Feel: 7
Fun Factor: 6
Total Score: 56

22. Condado Beach, Puerto Rico

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Condado Beach, Puerto Rico
Condado Beach, Puerto RicoShutterstock

Serenity? Nah. Sometimes you want to be in the middle of it all and still enjoy a great beach. If so, this hotel-, restaurant- and nightclub-lined strip located across Laguna del Condado from Old San Juan is the perfect fit, boasting trendy and convenient fun. Just be aware that the waves and the tide can sometimes be a bit strong for children or inexperienced swimmers at one of the best beaches in the Caribbean.

Access: 10
Beauty: 6
Privacy: 6
Sand: 6
Shade: 8
Swim Ease: 6
Castaway Feel: 4
Fun Factor: 10
Total Score: 56

21. Bathsheba, Barbados

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Bathsheba, Barbados
Bathsheba, BarbadosShutterstock

This isn’t a beach you visit to plop down on a chaise and order a daiquiri. Bathsheba, located about 14 miles from Barbados’ capital, Bridgetown, on the Atlantic coast, is a wild and breezy stretch of eye-catching rock formations and rolling surf that’s ideal for active and adventurous visitors. Paddle out, and catch a wave (it’s a popular spot for surf competitions), enjoy an invigorating stroll, and sip rum punch while soaking in one of the shallow Bathsheba pools.

Access: 7
Beauty: 10
Privacy: 9
Sand: 6
Shade: 6
Swim Ease: 2
Castaway Feel: 9
Fun Factor: 7
Total Score: 56

20. Pinney's Beach, Nevis

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Pinney’s Beach, Nevis
Pinney’s Beach, NevisCourtesy Four Seasons Resort Nevis

The longest public beach on Nevis, four-mile Pinney’s offers up panoramic views of the island’s lush hillsides (home to green vervet monkeys) in one direction and neighboring St. Kitts in the other. There’s also an array of small beach bars – Sunshines being the most famous for its potent Killer Bee cocktail – and gorgeous sunsets at one of the best Caribbean beaches.

Access: 9
Beauty: 7
Privacy: 6
Sand: 6
Shade: 8
Swim Ease: 8
Castaway Feel: 6
Fun Factor: 7
Total Score: 57

19. Frenchman's Cove, Jamaica

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Frenchman’s Cove, Jamaica
Frenchman’s Cove, JamaicaZach Stovall

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton vacationed on this stunning Port Antonio beach more than 50 years ago, and Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz filmed a scene from Knight and Day here in 2010. But what draws guests to this private estate hotel (day visitors can pay about $10 for access) is its serene authenticity and unspoiled location away from Jamaica’s main tourist areas.

Access: 6
Beauty: 9
Privacy: 9
Sand: 7
Shade: 8
Swim Ease: 7
Castaway Feel: 6
Fun Factor: 5
Total Score: 57

18. Ffryes Beach, Antigua

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Ffryes Beach, Antigua
Ffryes Beach, AntiguaShutterstock

Antigua has 365 beaches – yes, this island could do a “Beach of the Day” calendar – so choosing one was tough. We went for relaxation and beauty (although, when cruise ships are in port, this is often an excursion destination). Accessible by bus (20 minutes from the capital, St. John) and home to a casual beach bar and restaurant, Ffryes Beach has powdery sand, a gentle surf and a chill vibe, making it one of the best Antigua beaches.

Access: 7
Beauty: 9
Privacy: 8
Sand: 9
Shade: 5
Swim Ease: 7
Castaway Feel: 7
Fun Factor: 6
Total Score: 58

17. Seven Mile Beach, Jamaica

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Seven Mile Beach, Jamaica
Seven Mile Beach, JamaicaZach Stovall

There’s a reason Negril’s most famous beach is lined with some of the best resorts in the Caribbean: The sand is soft, the surf is a seductive, clear aqua hue, and the sunsets are spectacular. Needless to say, Seven Mile Beach is synonymous with fun, so it’s not for shy, retiring types. Live entertainment, free-flowing all-inclusive bars and a few clothing-optional areas make it a care-free party zone.

Access: 10
Beauty: 7
Privacy: 5
Sand: 7
Shade: 8
Swim Ease: 7
Castaway Feel: 5
Fun Factor: 10
Total Score: 59

16. Mopion Island, The Grenadines

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Mopion Island, The Grenadines
Mopion Island, The GrenadinesRebecca Kinnear

Pack your sunscreen. You’ll only get to enjoy this idyllic sandbar and its solitary wooden palapa in the Grenadines for a few hours before being dropped off with a cooler full of cold, refreshing beverages. It’s located between Union Island and Petit St. Vincent, and, aside from sunning, snapping selfies and waving at passing boats, the main activity is snorkeling.

Access: 5
Beauty: 9
Privacy: 10
Sand: 9
Shade: 3
Swim Ease: 7
Castaway Feel: 10
Fun Factor: 6
Total Score: 59

15. Tulum Beach, Riviera Maya, Mexico

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Tulum Beach, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Tulum Beach, Riviera Maya, MexicoShutterstock

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then the ancient Mayans had amazing vision. They chose to build their only coastal fortress on a bluff overlooking this intimate Mexican beach. After touring the ruins, many visitors opt to follow a pathway and cool off with a dip in the gentle Caribbean surf. The beach offers great photo ops of Tulum’s Castillo, too, making it one of the best beaches in Central America.

Access: 8
Beauty: 10
Privacy: 7
Sand: 9
Shade: 6
Swim Ease: 8
Castaway Feel: 6
Fun Factor: 6
Total Score: 60

14. Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
Seven Mile Beach, Grand CaymanZach Stovall

Sometimes you just want to play, and Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman, known for the calmness and clarity of its brilliant blue water, offers lots of ways to get the fun going, making it one of the best Cayman Island beaches.

You can parasail, jet ski, wind-surf, wakeboard, go paddle-boarding, kayak and more. Landlubbers can find a comfy sun lounger, enjoy a relaxing massage, tee up at one of two adjacent golf courses or visit Calico Jack’s at the beach’s north end to enjoy a refreshing (and potent) Cayman Lemonade.

Access: 10
Beauty: 8
Privacy: 5
Sand: 8
Shade: 8
Swim Ease: 8
Castaway Feel: 5
Fun Factor: 8
Total Score: 60

13. Flamands Beach, St. Barth

On an island known as a playground for the rich and famous, this beach on the northwest coast is an inviting hideaway for anyone – if you can find it. Home to the luxurious five-star Cheval Blanc resort – one of the best beach resorts in the Caribbean – and flanked by a few restaurants and villas (and palm trees for shade), it’s quieter than popular St. Jean’s Beach near the airport and is known for gently rolling waves, making it one of the best island beaches.

Access: 7
Beauty: 8
Privacy: 9
Sand: 8
Shade: 8
Swim Ease: 7
Castaway Feel: 7
Fun Factor: 6
Total Score: 60

12. Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas
Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island, BahamasZach Stovall

It’s love at first blush. The islands of the Bahamas are home to many strands of brilliant white sand, so what sets this expansive Harbour Island beach – it’s three miles long and 50 to 100 feet wide – apart from the competition is its subtle rosy hue. Clearly visible (but more intense just before dusk), the soft, pink sand invites relaxation (you can even horseback ride) and offers a mix or privacy (away from the three resorts) and camaraderie (at small beach eateries and bars).

Access: 7
Beauty: 9
Privacy: 7
Sand: 9
Shade: 7
Swim Ease: 8
Castaway Feel: 7
Fun Factor: 7
Total Score: 61

11. Magens Bay Beach, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Magens Bay Beach, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Magens Bay Beach, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin IslandsShutterstock

The U.S. Virgin Islands has its fair share of beautiful beaches, but this one-mile arc of champagne-colored sand on the north coast of St. Thomas adds super-swimmable spots in some of the clearest water in the Caribbean, abundant water sports, a family-friendly vibe and an affordable food and beverage concession. It’s a USVI park, so there’s a $5 entrance fee, and it’s very popular with cruise-ship passengers.

Access: 9
Beauty: 10
Privacy: 5
Sand: 7
Shade: 8
Swim Ease: 8
Castaway Feel: 7
Fun Factor: 7
Total Score: 61

10. Horseshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Horseshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda
Horseshoe Bay Beach, BermudaShutterstock

Yes, Bermuda is in the Atlantic, well north of the Caribbean, but its namesake Bermuda Triangle extends to the Bahamas and Puerto Rico, giving it regional cred. Plus, its pale, pink sand and luminous turquoise water are simply gorgeous. What it isn’t is deserted – at least not during peak season (May to November) and on days when cruise ships are in port – but bathrooms, eateries and snorkel rentals make it a top spot to play and one of the top beaches in the Caribbean.

Access: 10
Beauty: 10
Privacy: 6
Sand: 7
Shade: 6
Swim Ease: 8
Castaway Feel: 6
Fun Factor: 8
Total Score: 61

9. Sandy Island, Anguilla

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Sandy Island, Anguilla
Sandy Island, AnguillaZach Stovall

Want to catch a boat named Happiness to a tiny offshore cay surrounded by sublime sea? Yes, please. This terrific, little spot, which first welcomed tourists in 1984, has rebounded from (and has been reshaped by) seven hurricanes, including Hurricane Irma in 2017. The reason to visit: a lunch of grilled lobster, crispy grouper and drunken coconut shrimp chased by JoJo’s Rum Punch.

Wear your swimsuit to enjoy a dip, and relax on an umbrella-shaded chaise until Happiness returns you to Anguilla proper.

Access: 7
Beauty: 10
Privacy: 8
Sand: 8
Shade: 6
Swim Ease: 8
Castaway Feel: 8
Fun Factor: 7
Total Score: 62

8. Juanillo Beach, Dominican Republic

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Juanillo Beach, Dominican Republic
Juanillo Beach, Dominican RepublicShutterstock

While the beaches in Punta Cana and Bávaro stretch for dozens of miles, they’re also lined with all-inclusive resorts filled with thousands of people. For the same white sand and gentle turquoise surf (but with a quieter, more laid-back vibe), check out this beauty located within the upscale Cap Cana resort area that’s open to the public (at the gate, just say you’re headed to Juanillo Beach).

Access: 9
Beauty: 9
Privacy: 6
Sand: 8
Shade: 9
Swim Ease: 8
Castaway Feel: 6
Fun Factor: 7
Total Score: 62

7. Eagle Beach, Aruba

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Eagle Beach, Aruba
Eagle Beach, ArubaShutterstock

Like an unassuming cousin from the country, Eagle Beach has an offhand charm that outshines the swagger of its more famous, more crowded Aruban relative, Palm Beach. This wide curve of sand is home to low-rise resorts, breezy tropical palms, a smattering of thatched palapas and two legendary wind-sculpted divi trees. It’s the perfect spot to inhale deeply and be happy.

Access: 10
Beauty: 9
Privacy: 7
Sand: 8
Shade: 7
Swim Ease: 8
Castaway Feel: 6
Fun Factor: 7
Total Score: 62

6. White Bay Beach, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: White Bay Beach, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
White Bay Beach, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin IslandsGina DeCaprio Vercesi

Whether you’re a day-tripper sipping a rum-laced drink at a beach bar or a sun-seeker enjoying a siesta in a rental villa, the soft sand and casual vibe of White Bay Beach on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands are impossible to resist.

Access: 7
Beauty: 8
Privacy: 6
Sand: 9
Shade: 8
Swim Ease: 8
Castaway Feel: 7
Fun Factor: 10
Total Score: 63

After being damaged by the 2017 hurricane season, the lively Soggy Dollar Bar (home of the Painkiller cocktail) and other beloved beach bars are happily back in the intoxicating business of pouring infamously strong BVI cocktails. Just enjoy White Bay’s great swimming and snorkeling beforehand.

5. Pig Beach, Exuma, Bahamas

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Pig Beach, Exuma, Bahamas
Pig Beach, Exuma, BahamasShutterstock

Soft, white sand, ridiculously clear, turquoise water and, yes, swimming pigs – this beach on uninhabited Big Major Cay, set amid a string of gorgeous and mostly deserted islets and sandbars in the Exumas, has all three. And, if the adorable, four-legged residents (thought to be descendants of long-ago, ship-wrecked cargo) can piggy-paddle their way over for a visit, imagine how calm and relaxing your own swim would be.

Access: 5
Beauty: 10
Privacy: 8
Sand: 9
Shade: 4
Swim Ease: 10
Castaway Feel: 10
Fun Factor: 9
Total Score: 64

4. The Baths, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: The Baths, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
The Baths, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin IslandsShutterstock

The British Virgin Islands were hit hard by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, but Virgin Gorda’s top attraction has been welcoming visitors for months. Arrive by boat or land to scramble amid a maze of mammoth boulders (which provide welcomed shade), claim a patch of soft sand, or snorkel in super-clear water. Just know that when cruise ships are anchored nearby, you may feel more like a visitor at a waterpark and not a castaway in paradise.

Access: 8
Beauty: 10
Privacy: 6
Sand: 8
Shade: 9
Swim Ease: 10
Castaway Feel: 6
Fun Factor: 7
Total Score: 64

3. Trunk Bay Beach, St. John

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Trunk Bay Beach, St. John
Trunk Bay Beach, St. JohnShutterstock

Most beaches aren’t postcard-perfect, but Trunk Bay isn’t most beaches. Located on the northwest coast of the smallest of the three U.S. Virgin Islands, where 60% of the island is national park, it’s renowned for its talcum-sot sand and underwater snorkel trail. And while St. John (along with St. Thomas and St. Croix) was slammed during 2017’s hurricane season, Trunk Bay has rebounded and continues to win over new fans.

Access: 9
Beauty: 10
Privacy: 7
Sand: 9
Shade: 7
Swim Ease: 9
Castaway Feel: 7
Fun Factor: 7
Total Score: 65

2. Shoal Bay East, Anguilla

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Shoal Bay East, Anguilla
Shoal Bay East, AnguillaShutterstock

A little bit peaceful retreat, a little bit party central and a whole lot of flawless sand and soothing blue sea – that’s the recipe for this one-mile stretch on Anguilla, often cited as the best of the island’s 33 beautiful beaches.

Walk its length, and enjoy serene views along with legendary local eateries Uncle Ernie’s (for BBQ) and Elodias Beach Bar (for grilled mahi mahi), washed down with rum punch, of course.

Access: 9
Beauty: 9
Privacy: 6
Sand: 10
Shade: 8
Swim Ease: 9
Castaway Feel: 6
Fun Factor: 8
Total Score: 65

1. Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

Best Beaches in the Caribbean: Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales, Turks and CaicosShutterstock

If you want your field of vision to go full IMAX, this is the spot. Yes, Turks and Caicos’ most famous beach is lined from end to end with resorts, but the, “Ahh…” moments that occur every time you gaze out at Grace Bay Beach’s dazzling white sand and clear aquamarine water is a natural sedative. The upscale ambience, beachfront pools, soothing spas and casual beach bars have a vibe that’s equally right for romance or family time, placing Grace Bay Beach atop our list of the most beautiful Caribbean beaches.

Access: 10
Beauty: 10
Privacy 5
Sand: 9
Shade: 9
Swim Ease: 9
Castaway Feel: 6
Fun Factor: 8
Total Score: 66